Food is our common ground, a universal experience. – James Beard
For the past 5 years or so, we have been redistributing non-perishable food from Food Bank Singapore to those residing in public rental housing neighbourhoods. Apart from staples, we get remnants from Food Festivals or restaurants every now and then. So, families are sometimes introduced to condiments and canned food that they are not familiar with and they regard this as something special. Another partner is Food from the Heart who for the past 14 years has been bringing over bread and pastries donated by bakeries and other food outlets. This is also very special. “A croissant from a cafe costs more than a plate of chicken rice at the hawker centre. Of course, I give my 4 children chicken rice but I am so happy that sometimes they get to enjoy a croissant and know what it tastes like,” a mother once told us.
Occasionally, there is also something sweet from Plain Vanilla, a bakery in Tiong Bahru but last week, we worked with Singapore Food Rescue, a new partner that rescues vegetables discarded at the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Market. They tell us that tons of perfectly edible produce are being discarded because they no longer look good enough to be displayed at a shop. So with the help of 6 volunteers, 8 parents at our child development centre distributed half a ton of vegetables comprising potatoes, cauliflower, brinjal, kangkong, capsicum and onions. Every child from our centre would probably have had a fair share of vegetables at home but the gift was enough for those living at the 2 rental housing blocks next to our centre as well as some 50 households 2 kilometres away. After, everyone who came by had their share, a parent loaded the remainder onto his truck and sent it to them.
That afternoon, these 8 parents taught their children and others in our centre an important lesson in preventing food waste. Importantly, they also demonstrated how a little sharing uplifted spirts and strengthened relationships among people. How the little we have can become much and multiplied in profound ways for a stronger community.
Values are caught and not taught, and parents are invaluable co-educators at our child development centre. A couple of days after this food distribution exercise, when more than 50 children were feeling a little hungry during a day-out, they were served a hot meal prepared by their chaperones. These 4 parent-volunteers had anticipated the children’s need and decided to pool resources not just to feed their own children but all their classmates as well. Their gesture offered a lesson on the value of thoughtfulness, generosity and cooperation; one where the children and we ourselves will remember for a long time.
Enjoy your weekend.
Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others. – Barbara Bush